Samsung Galaxy Portal i5700
Sammy enters the Android marketplace
Review Samsung's Galaxy Portal is the Korean firm's latest dip into Android waters and for now it's exclusive to T-Mobile. It's been available in Europe since last year as the Galaxy Spica but, unlike most Samsung smartphones, this is pure Android. There isn’t the slightest hint of Samsung's TouchWiz interface, so it's effectively a clean slate, to do with as you will. In terms of features, it's an avowedly midrange quad band handset, with a LCD touch screen, 3.2Mp camera, Wi-Fi and AGPS.
T-Mobile UK exclusive: Samsung's Galaxy Portal i5700
Glossy black and slim at 115 x 57 x 13mm and 124g, the Galaxy Portal is standard Samsung touchscreen fare. Beneath the screen Samsung has crammed in no less than seven buttons in a not terribly tidy configuration: menu and back, plus call start and stop surrounding a diamond-shaped navpad, with additional buttons for home and the web nudging in at the sides.
The web button seems a bit superfluous, since you can easily access the same function from the screen, but the home button proved invaluable, since the call stop key doesn't double up as a home key, as you might expect. Around the sides are a volume rocker and camera shutter button.
The side screen unlock button takes a bit of getting used to – you have to press and hold it for a few seconds and it's all too easy to press the volume keys on the opposite side at the same time. At least you can adjust the screen save time so you don't have to reactivate it every few seconds.
Along the top there's a 3.5mm headphone jack and a micro USB slot covered by a plastic grommet. Under the back cover are slots for a micro SD memory card and the Sim card, which, unusually, you don't have to remove the battery to get at. At 3.5in the TFT LCD touch screen is a decent size and it's capacitive, rather than resistive, which makes it nicely sensitive to the touch. Indeed, it had no trouble distinguishing between our brushes and presses.
Not the latest Android OS, it runs 1.5, Cupcake
Yet while the screen proved absolutely fine, the processor seemed to struggle a bit with our perfectly reasonable demands to skip between programs. It would often hang and hold for a few seconds as it navigated the menus. The operating system is the standard Android 1.5 set-up, rather than the more recent 2.1, with three home pages, which you can populate with all your apps and shortcuts.
Re: Not free
Being a bit skint, and having my contract up for renewal, I had the option of a G2 at £25/24months, or this, at £20/18months - I went for the Samsung; I'm too fecking pissed off with my 6650d to wait for the Bravo [AKA unbranded Nexus One] and can't justify the £600 for a near obselete phone. £360 is Ok though. And besides, when it comes to the next renewal, I reckon that all Android phones [and smartphones in general] will be rolling with 1ghz CPUs so I thought I'd introduce myself to the Smartphone world again, my last experience being XDAs. Which I hated with a passion I normally reserve for child rapists.
Overall impressions after a day of fiddling are quite good actually - I can see where Mr Oliver is coming from with regards to the *slight* tardiness - it's not as quick as the videos of the Nexus One for example, but from my fiddlings with Heros and Magics, it's not really much worse - it's perfectly servicable in that respect. The camera *is* slow as hell, but I have an SLR if I want to take pictures - I've never been one for cameraphones.
The capacitive screen is a real boon - once you get used to using it. I kept on trying to use a fingernail/edge of a rizla packet/etc to get more precision, then realising that doesn't work. it's really a case of getting used to working out where the corners/pads of your fingers and thumbs fall more than anything else, then it all starts to come together.
The biggest problem I've had so far was getting contacts to sync, which was more my fault for not being up on how Google arranges contacts more than anything else, although I was a bit miffed to know that I can't get my SMS messages to transfer over. Don't bother linking migration tools like sms2cvs and Sprite, they don't work for SMS from 6650 --> i5700. No major loss though.
Twidroid, facebook, gmail integration et al is very nice and works well, notifications are sane and rationally done, and there seems to be little in the way of interface bloat [regardless of what you think of the tehcnical backend] - it's just all very slick. Not iPhone smooth, but then it can run more than one third party app at a time, eh?
Next step is to get Android 2.1 and the lightweight pack on there - I've only had it ten hours and already I'm wanting to kick it up a notch.
So, my own little quick and dirty Android/i5700 verdict? It's quick enough, slick enough, and works nicely - I'm struggling to think of a better, 'semi-budget' contract android phone.
Mr Raith suggest playing with one in a T-mobile store - I can see where Mr Oliver is coming from with his comments about speed and whatnot, and while he isn't wrong [there are faster, better responding android phones out there] I think perhaps as a hardware reviewer, he may be looking at it from a different light than someone who is pissed off with their clunky bar/flip phone, is at the end of their contract and wants to try a touchscreen for not *too* much money - it's definitely worth a serious look, and better than the other cheapo Android handsets. Especially at £20/month for 300 mins, unlimited texts and free interwebs - the wifi mitigates any fair usage policies anyway.
Hope that helps :-)
[PS: I have nothing to do with T-Mob/Samsung et al. I'm just me, dribbling drunken ramblings...]
Too soon to tell
Few people I've heard talking about it have said it's _a bit_ slower than 1.5, but they are still using a beta version of the ROM.
Whether it's to be believed or not the official release might be out in the next few weeks. We'll know then for sure.
Eclair 2.1 available
Check this out.
The LwMod (LightWeight) makes the phone five times as snappy as the Samsung original 2.1 prerelease.
Google translate does a pretty decent job of translating the Russian - at least you get the drift.
Where's the keyboard...?